Antonio Esfandiari Tops Jamie Gold, Tough Final Table for first WSOP Circuit Ring
Antonio Esfandiari may sport one of the most impressive resumes in poker — third on the all-time money list with over $26.7 million, holder of multiple World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour titles, $1 Million One Drop champion, and participant in some of the biggest cash games ever televised — but one thing that he never laid claim to was a WSOP Circuit ring.
That changed Tuesday night, when Esfandiari topped a field of 756 entries to win the $1,675 Main Event of the stop at the Bicycle Casino in L.A. Esfandiari won $226,785 and a gold ring. Perhaps just as notable, his heads-up opponent was none other than 2006 WSOP Main Event champ Jamie Gold.
Official Final Table Results
|Las Vegas, NV
|West Hills, CA
|Long Beach, NY
|South Plainfield, NJ
The 81 paid positions housed a number of familiar names leading up the tournament's final day. Tuan Le (71st), Ari Engel (50th), Dylan Wilkerson (42nd), Nam Le (39th), James Woods (30th), and Jason Les (22nd) all walked away from the tournament with wallets a bit fatter.
According to the live updates, it was Gold holding more than 2.8 million at the dawn of Day 4 with blinds at 15,000/30,000/5,000, while second-place Ludovic Geilich had just under 2.2 million.
Famed mixed martial arts announced Bruce Buffer made Day 4 but was the first to bust, bowing out in 12th when he lost a race to Hector Contreras. Meanwhile, Gold slipped up a tad early but eliminated Contreras to head to the official final table with a renewed lead.
That was short-lived however, as two of the bigger stacks clashed in a preflop war when 2015 bracelet winner Jack Duong opened for 100,000 at the next blind level (20,000/40,000/5,000) and saw Esfandiari three-bet to 300,000. Duong four-bet and the two got it in for about 2 million with Duong holding A♣K♠ and Esfandiari Q♠Q♣. The board ran out clean for "The Magician" and he had Duong narrowly covered, so he vaulted to about 4.2 million with the knockout.
Esfandiari continued to run hot and three-outed a short-stacked Geilich in eighth. Blaise Hom busted seventh, and then Esfandiari turned his K♠Q♥ into a winner against the A♦5♥ of Bryn Kenney when the two got all in blind-versus-blind for Kenney's last 650,000.
The key pot for Esfandiari happened when he and Gold saw an A♦3♦4♣ flop in a three-bet pot with Gold holding A♥K♦ and Esfandiari a set of threes. The Magician check-raised the 10♣ turn and they got it in with Gold drawing dead. That allowed Esfandiari to double to over 6.5 million, while Gold was left with just over 20 big blinds.
Alex Greenblatt (fifth),RunGood Pro Ray Henson (fourth), and Barry Woods (third) all fell in turn, the latter a victim of a flopped wheel by Esfandiari when Gold had less than 10 big blinds remaining. That left the former Main Event champ — who told PokerNews last year that he's getting back into the poker swing of things after putting together sporadic cashes for $500,000 since his big win in 2006 — at a massive deficit of more than 10-1.
Gold managed one double courtesy of a three-outer but was undone when an A♠2♣5♣ flop hit both players, but Esfandiari's A♣2♥ trumped Gold's A♥K♦. The two got in a raising war on the flop and Gold did not improve as it ran out 2♦ then 8♥. He was left with the consolation prize of his second-biggest live cash, while Esfandiari won the lion's share of the money and a $10,000 seat into the WSOP Global Casino Championship.
*Image courtesy of World Series of Poker.